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GZA/Genius (Wu-Tang Clan) • “Alphabets” • Pro Tools • 2008

Allah Be a Born, Cee Divine, Equality,
Father, then after that, there’s the G-O-D.
He or Her, I Islam, then Justice,
King of Kingdom, Love, Hell or Right, we still exist.
Master, Now in Cypher, Power’s the Queen,
Rule of Rulers, Self of Save, the Truth of the square, the same.
Universe, Victory, Wisdom, Unknown,
Why, Zig Zag Zig…and now we’re back home.

GZA, “Alphabets,” Pro Tools, 2008

Dres (Black Sheep) • “Black with N.V.” • 1991

Now, harmony is a total love of things
For those who are inclined or better yet like to sing.
But piece of mind it is my right for the spark will ignite
Till I can catch a cab at the town at midnight,
Till I can be myself and not be thought as worse,
Till I can buy a slice from Howard Beach to the ‘Hurst.
Till I can get the pill without fear of eject,
And occupations which I seek I can have if I select.
Now, if I so select and reach out to make touch
How can you say that I ask for too much?

Dres, “Black with N.V.,” from Black Sheep’s A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, 1991

Grand Puba (Brand Nubian) • “Slow Down” • 1990

As the jewels jingle from the hot young and single little stunt,
A forty and a blunt…that’s all she really wants.
But she’ll spend your papes, and she’ll use up all your plastic.
And if you swing an ep, you’d better wear a prophylactic
Cause things are getting drastic…
Slide up in the wrong one, you’ll end up in a casket.

Grand Puba, “Slow Down,” from Brand Nubian’s One For All, 1990

Keith Murray • “They Tell Me” • 2008

Now he from the BX, but he really soft,
And he from BK, but his guns don’t go off.
He from cop-killer Queens, but he still getting robbed,
And he from money-makin, but he ain’t on his job.
Now he from LA, but he’s scared to bang,
And he from Texas, but he will do the damn thing.
He’d stay in VA, but he is scared of the streets,
And he’s from Chi, but he’s sweet as a peach.

Keith Murray, “They Tell Me,” from EPMD’s We Mean Business, 2008

Ghostface Killah (Wu-Tang Clan) • “Food” • 2015

To increase your life line, strengthen your heart.
Eat fish…that brain food will get you smart.
Yoga…deep meditational tactics,
You no good? Then just practice, cause practice makes perfect.
Stop burying your lies, and bring the truth to the surface.

Ghostface Killah, “Food,” from BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah’s Sour Soul, 2015

Big Pun • “Drop It Heavy” • 1998

Now what’s the problem?
You ain’t nothin’ like you said on your album.
I thought you was wildin’,
Bustin’ your guns and runnin’ the Island.
You wasn’t violent, you was silent tryin’ to get college credits.
How pathetic…did it to get out of calisthenics.

Big Pun, “Drop It Heavy,” from Show & A.G.’s Full Scale EP, 1998

LL Cool J • “My Rhyme Ain’t Done” • 1987

I took a little trip into a deck of cards:
The Diamond Jack, Joker and the Ace of Spades
Was amazed at greater Cut Creator on the fade.
Then I played cards with the Queen of Clubs,
The Queen of Hearts with me cold fell in love.
As for the Queen of Diamonds, she don’t like men…
Because you know that a diamond is a girl’s best friend.
The double-trouble Spade was named the Deuce,
And the Joker acted stupid, so we gave him the news.
There was 52 cards, and I met everyone
That story is over, but my rhyme ain’t done.

LL Cool J, “My Rhyme Ain’t Done,” Bigger and Deffer, 1987

J. Cole • “False Prophets” • 2016

He’s fallin’ apart, but we deny it,
Justifying that half-ass shit he dropped, we always buy it.
When he tell us he a genius, but it’s clearer lately
It’s been hard for him to look into the mirror lately.
There was a time when this nigga was my hero, maybe,
That’s the reason why his fall from grace is hard to take.
‘Cause I believed him when he said his shit was purer and he
The type of nigga swear he real, but all around him’s fake:
The women, the dickriders, you know, the yes men,
Nobody with the balls to say somethin’ to contest him.
So he grows out of control,
Into the person that he truly was all along, it’s startin’ to show.
Damn, wonder what happened?
Maybe it’s my fault for idolizing niggas
Based off the words they be rappin’.

J. Cole, “False Prophets,” Dreamville, 2016

Q-Tip (A Tribe Called Quest) • “Black Spasmodic” • 2016

Rip every stage with grace, look right dead in they face,
Live the Tribe principle of havin’ impeccable taste.
Enjoy that breath like that one was your last one left,
If you don’t believe me, there’s truly life after death.

– Q-Tip, “Black Spasmodic,” from A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got It from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service, 2016

Everlast (House of Pain) • “No Doubt” • 1996

Come on, let’s be real:
You only think you can deal.
That’s why i’m holdin’ the steel,
I rock shit to make you feel
Like, damn that looks easy! Maybe I can do it.
So you take a fat beat and put your wack rhymes to it.
And God only knows what can make you pursue it,
For those who can’t dance and clap your hands to it.

– Everlast, “No Doubt,” from House of Pain’s Truth Crushed to Earth Will Rise Again, 1996